Oakland Athletics (64-39) at Texas Rangers (41-63), 7:05 p.m. (ET)

07/27/2014 10:35 AM

07/27/2014 10:43 AM

(SportsNetwork.com) - The best team in baseball tries to put some more distance between itself and the rest of the American League West on Sunday, as the Oakland Athletics seek to close out a three-game set against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on a positive note.

Oakland, which owns the largest run differential (plus-164) in the majors, has won three of the last four outings and is 25 games over .500, yet the squad is a mere two games ahead of the Anaheim Angels in the division standings.

On Saturday night the A's employed the long ball in order to capture the 5-1 win over the Rangers, utilizing four home runs in their assault. Josh Reddick, Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes each had solo home runs, while John Jaso connected on a two-run shot in the sixth inning to kick the Oakland offense into gear.

As a group, the A's now have 109 home runs through 103 games, tying them for third in the American League heading into play on Sunday.

"Home runs are a part of our game," said manager Bob Melvin, "so you just have to stay with it at times when you go into some droughts a few innings in a row and know that one swing can get you going."

Starting pitcher Sonny Gray continued to shine for the A's in just his second season, permitting just a single run on seven hits and four walks, while striking out five over 6 2/3 innings. Gray, who is now 12-3 on the campaign, lowered his ERA to 2.65.

Not so fortunate was Texas starter Nick Tepesch who, after looking great for five innings, not only lost his edge but also had to exit early due to soreness in his left knee.

"I just felt a little discomfort in the knee," Tepesch said. "It got me on my last pitch. When my front leg landed, I felt it a little bit. I had never felt anything like that before."

Tepesch gave up three runs on just four hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out a pair as well.

The Texas lineup put up seven hits and five walks, yet only Jim Adduci managed to cross the plate in the bottom of the fourth.

Having already exceeded his entire win total from last season, when he finished 10-9 for the Cleveland Indians, Scott Kazmir gears up for his next trip to the mound tonight versus the Rangers.

A native of Texas himself, Kazmir has won his last two decisions but saw a strong performance in his most recent outing fail to be rewarded. Against Houston earlier this week, the left-hander allowed just two runs -- one earned -- on seven hits and a walk, while striking out six through seven innings.

In a career that began in Tampa Bay and dates back a decade, Kazmir has a record of 7-4 with a 3.22 ERA in 15 all-time appearances versus Texas.

Originally scheduled to make the start for the Rangers on Saturday, Miles Mikolas is ready to take his turn this evening instead. The right-hander, who is getting his first-ever look at the A's even though he played his first two major league seasons with San Diego, is coming off his first win of the campaign on Monday versus the New York Yankees.

Mikolas made it through 7 1/3 innings in the Bronx, permitting two runs on four hits and a couple walks, while striking out three as he lowered his ERA from 10.05 to 7.48.

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